Canoe Island’s Cataclysmic Storm (part 2) ๐Ÿ›ถ

‘What doesn’t kill you will only make you Stronger’
~Nietzsche

By Guest Writer: Little Brother Luke

Continued from Part 1

canoe island2

Around six in the evening, the canoe finally drifted into the little cove on the island.  They carefully unloaded the gear to assure it would remain dry.  They set up the tent, threw the sleeping bags inside and paddled off to Echo Rock.  As they paddled, Luke looked up at the rock cliff, and he began to remember the first time he had jumped from Echo Rock.  He recalled the mixture of exhilaration and frightening feelings, as he slowly scaled the naturally laid stones to the precarious ledge which opened to a panoramic view of the bay.  Local history has it that in the late nineteenth century, before roads were built in the area, a steamship that supplied the towns of Maggie River and Almond Harbour caught fire and sank in the bay.  On a clear day, one can still see the timbers of the old steamship from the ledge at Echo Rock.

jump from rock

They docked the canoe to the side of the majestic rock surface and tied a line to a birch tree conveniently overhanging the surface of the water.  Like most hot July days in the north, the day’s end was a subtle transition into a long, warm evening, with the heat of the day still prevalent in the mid-summer air.  On this particular day, the late evening temperature was higher than usual.  As he dove through the air, he anticipated the cool feel of the water on his sweltering body.  After thirty minutes of climbing and diving, they were both ready to retire for the evening.  They jumped back into the canoe and headed toward the tiny island campsite, just three hundred yards in front of them.

As the distinctive sound of crickets filled the air, accompanied by the multitude of mysterious sounds from other diverse night creatures, the sun’s powerful radiance created a timeless portrait on the night’s western sky.

sunset on water
Courtesy of ‘Nature’s Knocking’ Blog on WordPress

The buzz of thousands of mosquitoes hovering over the surface of the water were silhouetted by the red glow of the sunset.  The night became animated in sound and the peculiar northern environment came alive with tranquil vitality.

campfire and canoe

The time was 9:30pm.  Jason started a small fire and they cooked a meal of beans and wieners as they quietly watched the flickering flames.  Luke turned and asked Jason a question and he was surprised to see him already heading for the tent to go to sleep.  Just then, he looked up at the night sky and saw a ring of clouds forming in the western horizon.  Suddenly, he heard a splash on the other side of the island.  He ran over to a barren rock-shelf and flashed his light in the rippling water.

snapper

A big snapping turtle appeared in the dark water below him.  The characteristic hooked head and long tail on the lonely reptile gave it a sinister look as it frantically swam away from the light.  As he looked over the water, the rain then began.  Nevertheless, Luke doused the fire and headed for the tent.

The air in the tent was hot, but after a while the rain’s hypnotic sound on the tent softly lulled him to sleep as it quenched the night air of its sticky heat.  The wind was picking up as the sound of trees bowed to its might and it could be heard all around the tiny island.

Suddenly, Luke awoke.  He looked out the tent window and saw a flash of light in the night sky.  Just heat lightening, he optimistically thought, as he drifted again into a twilight sleep.

Twenty minutes later, however, the tent abruptly shifted as the wind became strong and severe.  They were both awake now and wondered if this was a smart time to get off the island.

white water

Luke looked out the window of the tent at a tiny porch light, about a quarter of a mile up the lake.  The light flickered and went out.  A power-line must have gone down, he thought to himself.  He realized then that this was not a normal storm.  As he looked out at the turbulent lake and heard the white waves hit the shore of the island, he knew they were trapped.

The canoe could easily capsize if they took the chance to reach the nearest shelter.  The storm raged on, and with every flash of lightening their fear rose as they waited for the inevitable clap of thunder, which sounded so close it shook the tiny island and rang in their ears as a warning of its fury.

Luke reminded himself and his young nephew not to panic.  The combination of rain, wind and lightening became so intense that they were forced to yell at each other to communicate over the furious tempest.

What could they do?

Their bodies were drenched from the deluge of rain.  They were sitting ducks in the midst of a powerful storm.  The lightening flashed with great intensity and they both knew that they could be electrocuted at any second.

The time slowed to endless crawl.  The lightening crashed down so close that the ground was alive underneath them.  Fear became their greatest enemy.  Luke thought about the headlines in tomorrow’s local paper:

Two Careless Canoeists Swept To Death Camping On Tiny Island

They had to act!

They both jumped out of the tent and into a blinding shower of rain.  They had to get to the canoe to get off the storm-besieged island.  They looked in amazement when they realized the canoe had flipped over and dislodged itself from its original place high up on the rock.  The tie-line had torn off the tree limb.  They were just in time!  Luke had to get to the canoe before it was swept away into the deep water of the lake.  He dove into the tumultuous water and came up on the other side of the canoe.  The waves lapped against his head and he luckily braced himself on the bottom of the lake, pushing the canoe into the island’s rocky shore.  Jason grabbed the tie-line and they lifted the canoe up and over, to empty it of water.

lighteningThe lightening flashed and they saw its giant forks crash into a tree near Echo Rock, splitting it in half with ease.  But, they were paralyzed with fear and decided they had to wait it out in the water-soaked tent.  Going out on the lake now would put them in more danger.

It was three in the morning, and the storm had raged for more than three hours.  At three-thirty, the lightening and the wind began to subside and they were ready to risk an escape in an empty canoe.

They placed the canoe in the water and paddled for the nearest cottage with all their might.  The lake was still rough and the white waves became a formidable obstacle in the dark.

The wind gusted unpredictably.  The canoe turned abruptly and the waves haphazardly hit the side of the tiny craft, pushing it into the bay.  Luke started having second thoughts about their decision to cross over to the cottage on the mainland, but they could not turn back now.

The cold rain dripped from their weary faces as water lapped over the sides of the canoe.

The wind subsided and attacked like a bull on a rampage.  After forty-five minutes of wind and waves, Luke pointed to the dock in excitement.  Just as hope became alive in them, a colossal wave rolled mightily over the side of the canoe, sweeping them into the uproarious lake.

Fortunately, Luke and Jason were both strong swimmers and they did not panic easily.  The night seemed endless and surreal as the dark water encompassed their every thought.  Luke then looked behind him and saw the protruding dock just a few feet away.

They had made it….

***

Luke opened his eyes and it took a few moments to realize where his exhausted body had fallen two hours before, in the dark.  The water was now calm as the early rays of the sun shone over the tree-line in the east.  The canoe was rhythmically hitting the rocks just twenty feet to the left of the dock.  As Luke’s eyes came into focus, he thought that the once proud craft looked broken and demoralized as the water swelled over its humble crescent form.

A man then appeared on the dock and told them about the tornado that had touched down in the area.  They suddenly realized that the storm had left a path of destruction, with immense pine trees split in half and cottages with trees leaning on them, precariously.

As Luke and Jason drove out onto the main highway, they looked in wonder at the legacy of the storm.  It was a storm that would be well-remembered by the two fortunate survivors.

Luke turned to his nephew and said:

A philosopher by the name of Nietzsche once wrote what I am feeling right now…

‘What doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger.’

canoe on sand

Leave a comment!  I love ’em and the guest writer, Luke Player, will love ’em too!

(All photos were found on google images and pinterest and https://naturesknocking.wordpress.com/ )

Taking Summer Seriously

Last summer an idea struck.  How about I take summer seriously?  How about I make a concerted effort to get out on our beautiful Nova Scotia beaches on as many nice days as possible.  I own my own business and can work flexible hours, so in keeping with the tides, I could arrange my work to allow for beach walks on nice days.  Why in keeping with the tides?  Well, in this part of Nova Scotia, at high tide, there is often no beach to walk on.  Also, there is a danger of being trapped down the beach should the tide be coming back in.  It happens to unsuspecting folks every year.  Best to walk the beach knowing what the tides are doing.  Rainy days would be for catching up on office work. So, no waiting for weekends. I would take summer seriously.  I just wanted to eat those beaches up.  The second half of this was that I wanted a friend or two or a family member or two to accompany me on each said beach walk.  I started asking around and several of my friends sounded interested.

Nova Scotia (23)First up was Blomidon Beach at low tide, once with my friend Lisa, then Jessie (and dogs) and then again with Victoria. Victoria was home for the summer holiday and as eager to walk the beaches as I.  That worked!  Blomidon Beach is a red, flat beach with red sheer cliffs hemming it in.   There are often tiny little avalanches of red stones coming down off those cliffs.  All along the top of the cliffs there are nesting holes for the swallows that make their homes there.

Next up was Scott’s Bay with Victoria. It was perfect. As we rolled along on the highway above Scott’s Bay, we each gasped at the beauty of the scene that emerged on approach to the big hill leading down into the village.  The Big Blue, I like to call it.  And, I can not visit Scott’s Bay without recalling fondly a novel I thoroughly enjoyed which is set in historic Scott’s Bay by local best-selling author Ami McKay.  The Birth House is about the age-old struggle of women to be in control of their own bodies. Imagine.  I would look at the houses and flapping colourful clotheslines and imagine the characters from that novel.  Their tough but incredibly rich lives…all of it happening right there.

The tide was way out.  Victoria parked the car and walked over the small bridge onto the pebbles of Scott’s Bay beach on the Bay of Fundy with the highest tides in the world. We walked out and off to the left, stopping to remove our footwear and talking and relating while we stepped into the cool grey mud of Scott’s Bay at low tide.  The floor of the ocean. Part of the time the grey mud was quite soft and deep. The temperature was perfect.  The sun was high.  It was warm but not hot and it was ideal. We walked and walked, the only two souls on the vast, shimmering beach:

Shiny Happy People Laughing.

IMG_4717

Afterward we had lunch on the patio of ‘The Haze’ Diner which is located close to the beach, on the highway approaching Scott’s Bay.  It was a good day. Homeward bound we stopped at Stirlings Farm Market for something to cook up for supper. Feeling refreshed, kissed by the sun, salt, wind and sand, we had taken summer seriously.

The next trip out was with my friends Mary and Victoria and over to Penny Beach at Avonport. Another perfect weather day and off we went, walking way down the beach, marveling and exclaiming at the beauty all around us.  There was so much to see, to examine, to show each other and to talk about.  I told them about the time, years prior, that Daisy and I had been on this beach, eating a picnic lunch with our three boys when we saw a group approaching us.  They hadn’t even seen us, they were looking at the rock, the shale, the pebbles, the eagles, the shore birds.  I told them that I was curious about what they were doing. Turns out it was a famous scientist and his students and they had come a great long way to see this beach.  He said it was world famous to geologists.  That it was once an inland sea and would have had a plethora of very large creatures and dinosaurs on it.  The boys were quite impressed.  I was just so thankful to have had the opportunity to glimpse them in action.

Anyway, within no time we realized that three hours had slipped by.  On Mary’s suggestion, which surprised me because I think of her as quite fastidious, we walked way out to the edge of the receding tide, knowing that the trip back would be through sticky mud.  In Nova Scotia, when one says they walked way out to the edge of the receding tide, that can be a LOOOOONG way — like a mile sometimes.  No kidding.

Another benefit of walking on beaches with friends is that sometimes surprising qualities and details about them (and me) emerge. In my experience it has always been a positive and our friendship grows deeper as we admire the beauty, sometimes sharing stories and anecdotes and sometimes just walking silently bathing in the salty breeze, sometimes bending to help the other wash the tenacious mud from their feet or the troubles from their hearts.

IMG_4710At the water’s edge, it was astoundingly beautiful, the patterns in the rock, the ripple of the waves, the call of the gulls and before that, the emerald green moss on the tiny, perpetually trickling runoff waterfall.  We savoured it all and it was magical.  Returning to the parking lot, we sat at the hexagonal picnic table and each ate a Valley apple and drank fresh water from our water bottles.  So simple.  So good.  The day had been perfect. We had taken summer seriously.

IMG_4730Next it was Blue Beach with Rachel and Simon.  I picked them up and off we drove on another very pretty day.  Blue Beach is located between Avonport and Hantsport on the Minas Basin. It wasn’t a far ride for us.  We parked and started the wee jaunt down the dirt road to the beach.  Every time I walk down that dirt track, my mind is aflutter with memories of the previous walks on that beach.  The time my step-sister was visiting with her family and her palpable anticipation of this fossil-riddled beach.  She normally walks with a cane.  Not that day.  She was just too excited and the adrenaline was rampant.  She was almost skipping. Then, while she and hubby examined fossils, I spent time with their two children and Leo.  Skipping stones and doing handstands, running and tumbling, chasing and being chased and getting wet with furry, joyful Lady.  A great memory.  Leo idolized his big cousins and it was sweet to watch.

So, as it emerged, we could see the distinctly blue tinge of the rock and sand which forms this incredible beach.  We all walked slowly and methodically, heads bowed to the rocky beach surface to notice its treasures, to bend and point and remark, three heads came together peering at marvels on the ocean floor.  It was magical.  At some point, hunger called us back to the car and away we swept to a close-by coffee shop for a snack and a drink.

betty 2Betty and I did Medford Beach together, parking in the cul-de-sac and walking down the grassy slope, across the tiny bridge and carefully stepping down the eroded small cliff, onto the red sand, beside the fresh run-off stream. The dogs were with us and into it full tilt.  The chance to run free, smelling all the smells and swimming willy-nilly made their tails wag furiously happily.  Following their lead, we kicked off our footwear, sinking our feet into the cool red sand.  Then we walked and walked and talked and talked solving all of the problems of the world.

Betty on beach

Later that summer, Leo and Dean and I went down to the Kejimkujik Seaside Adjunct for a hike on one gorgeous day.  It was about a ten-km hike, partially over the windswept hills and then down along a boardwalk and onto a rocky beach.  As we approached the beach, we could see what looked like structures sticking up all over it.  Turned out, to be many many inukshuks. They were everywhere and they lent a surreal quality to the remarkably pretty beach. Leo immediately began to take photos of them and then to build one himself.

inukshuks

From the rocky beach, we walked on a windy woodland trail and then out onto an incredible white-sand beach where we spent some time contemplating a swim.  Make no bones about it, the water was, as always, freezing.  Dean managed to submerge for a split second then rushed out to the warmth of the sand.  It had been a lovely day and finished on a spectacular beach.

keji 2

In was a fantastic summer mission which also included Evangeline, Hirtles, Avonport, Crescent, Margartsville, Aylesford, Kingsport beaches, all with their various qualities ranging from fine white sand to pebble to rocky, red sand, blue sand, golden sand. Near, far, remote, popular, unheard of, it was a grand summer full of wonder, family and friendship.  No better kind.